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Immigration Law

Repealing H-4 Visa Work Authorization: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Ike Brannon, Senior Fellow, Jack Kemp Foundation, and M. Kevin McGee, Professor Emeritus, UW Oshkosh, March 4, 2019

"In 2015 the Obama Administration authorized temporary work permits for the spouses of H-1B visa holders who were awaiting green cards. Over 90,000 of these H-4 visa holders have since received a work permit, known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and three-fourths of them are gainfully employed. In 2017 the Trump administration announced that it intends to repeal the rule providing this work authorization. This February the administration followed through on that announcement with a notice of proposed rulemaking. The administration’s stated reason for repealing the rule is that it would create more jobs for U.S. citizens. We believe a thorough benefit-cost analysis, as required under Executive Order 12866, would find this justification unfounded. Ending the ability of these workers – who are, by and large, well-educated and high-skilled – to hold jobs in the United States would at best have no net effect on U.S. citizens’ employment and likely would reduce their employment and wages. Further, ending EADs would hurt the U.S. economy and U.S. taxpayers."